The rehabilitation of the San Jose Sharks took
its first step on Tuesday when the club announced the hiring of Mike Grier who
will serve as the Sharks new General Manager. Grier, a former Sharks player,
will serve as the fifth GM in the team's history. The 47 year-old was
introduced to the media in a press conference at SAP Center, just two days
before the NHL Entry Draft.
San Jose has been searching for a new GM,
since longtime executive Doug Wilson resigned on April 7th. The Sharks decision
makers then spent the next three months trying to find Wilson's replacement.
During that span, they also relieved head coach Bob Boughner and several
assistants from the coaching staff.
The Sharks have missed the
playoffs the last three years and their player development program in the minor
leagues is regarded as one of the weakest in the NHL.
Grier takes the
job with a long list of franchise defining moves to make before the team opens
training camp in September. At the top of the list is finding Boughner's
replacement and preparing for the draft which is literally hours away.
San Jose will draft 11th on Thursday and hold picks in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th
(2 picks), 6th and 7th rounds (3 picks). It's unknown how long Grier has had
access to the Sharks scouting organization to help assist with the game plan
for the selections the team will make.
Like Wilson, Grier has a
player's pedigree, having played in the NHL from 1996 through 2011. The former
forward was drafted by the St Louis Blues in the 9th round of the 1993 Entry
Draft. Grier was traded to Edmonton along with Curtis Joseph in 1995. He would
go on to play for the Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo and San Jose.
The Sharks signed Grier as an unrestricted free agent on July 3rd,
2006 and would go on to play the next three season for San Jose. He was
regarded as a penalty kill specialist, but contributed 45 goals during his
tenure in San Jose. He would return to Buffalo following the 2008-09 season,
Grier's last in San Jose.
He now returns with a much tougher task. Mired with
underperforming rosters that eventually led to a major gutting the past two
season, Grier would not use the "rebuild" word in his press conference, but
that's exactly what's required in San Jose. If Grier believes he can simply
retrofit with a few roster additions, he'll be setting himself up for failure.
The Sharks have holes at every position and were abysmal on both sides
of the puck. Grier will have to figure out how to generate more offense, while
stopping the opposition from putting the puck in San Jose's net. Goaltending is
another area that is up in the air for San Jose.
Grier was hit with
multiple questions regarding diversity and his ground breaking role as the
league's first African-American General Manager. He deflected those that tried
to touch on Evander Kane and the grievance that the former Shark has filed with
the club. He expressed pride in his role as the first to hold the top executive
role within the confines of a league that is predominantly white.
Sharks President Jonathan Becher responded to a question on Grier's hiring as
the first African-American General Manager by saying that, "he was hired as the
best General Manager available. He just happens to be black."
asked how his father produced two professional general managers, Grier touched
on the work ethic that his father Bobby instilled in him in his youth. The
senior Grier serves as the Associate Director of Pro Scouting for the NFL's
In how he plans to address the roster situation that
sits in front of him, Grier mentioned the need to establish some cap
flexibility, which likely translates to clearing some space by getting rid over
bad contracts. Given Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns contracts those would be the
two biggest targets for possible moves. They're both considered upper echelon
players, but their contracts restrict San Jose from addressing many of the
holes that need filling.
Regardless, Grier's path is a rocky one, but
San Jose feels like they have the best man for the job. Only time will tell if
that choice was the right one.